judge seemed almost impossible. The two other raters were paid to score the SI sessions so that we could make sure the scoring would be done carefully.
This notwithstanding, it was deemed necessary to make a compromise with regards to the scoring procedure; the researcher’s personal experience showed that the more complicated and detailed the scoring scheme, the less reliable the scores would be. The bitter truth, like it or not, is that other raters do not feel as committed and dedicated as the researcher himself does. Thus, they tend to dislike complicated scoring schemes. There were so many SI sessions to be scored in this study (one hundred and forty SI sessions each lasting for approximately five minutes). In addition to this, it was not the intention of this study to analyze, compare or contrast the various aspects of the quality of the subjects’ SI performance, but rather it attempted to evaluate the overall quality of their SI performance and the extent to which they could improve their performance in general within the experiment period. By no means should this be taken to mean that we do not recognize the multi-facetedness of SI quality and see it as a unified whole, rather it was a compromise made in order to do away with the unnecessarily laborious rigmarole of a lengthy, broken-down, itemized, detailed scoring scheme, which would have no added value in view of the purpose of this study, and instead to increase the reliability of the obtained scores by using a more practical, rater-friendly, holistic approach to the scoring procedure.
Fortunately, the high level of inter-rater reliability observed in this study (r = 0.79), meant that there was a high agreement among the judges with regard to the quality of the SI sessions and that the scores could be relied on to accurately reflect the trainees’ performance in the SI (pre- and post-)tests.
Review of the
Simultaneous interpretation, an irrational system
The assumption equating translation of language meanings and interpretation also explains the invention of simultaneous interpretation. The latter was first used on a large scale at the Nuremberg Trials; it then developed beyond the political sphere into the fields of economics, sports, finance, manufacturing industries, transport, etc. It finally superseded consecutive in many domains.
(Seleskovitch, 1999, p. 57)
2.1 Chapter Overview
In this chapter, we will try to review the existing literature on some of the most important and commonly used terms and concepts relating to the areas dealt with in this work. These include interpreting in its various forms, simultaneous interpreting in particular, interpreter training, training techniques such as sight translation, shadowing exercises, split-attention exercises, anticipation exercises, memory-improvement exercises, improvisation exercises, paraphrasing exercises, etc.
We will also take a very brief look at the literature on multiple intelligences and personality types.
2.2 Interpreting: Definition and Modes
While being an old profession in the world, interpretation serves the purpose of making possible the cross-cultural, cross-lingual, cross-national communication in this day and age. Given the fact that the twenty first century is seen as the age of communication, it is easy to see why translation, in general, and all its modes and forms including interpreting has gained and is gaining unprecedented impetus over the past couple of decades.
Interpreters are experts who not only convert the words of a language into another but also convey ideas and concepts (Seleskovitch, 1999) between languages, cultures, and peoples, thus making communication possible. To do so, they need to have a good command of linguistic skills purporting to the languages from and into which they work, communicative and interpreting skills, and subject matter specificities. This obviously puts a great amount of demand on interpreters. That is most probably the reason why the 1950s and 1960s saw translation and interpretation schools emerge and flourish rapidly (Pöchhacker, 2004). They strove to train interpreters who possessed such varied skills and abilities required. As a natural result, the scholarly studies of translation and interpretation also gained importance.
Interpreting is different from translation in that it involves oral input of the source language and oral output of the target language rather than written input and output of the source and target languages. This, however, sounds like only scratching the surface; there is more to it than meets the eye. Interpreting is a sophisticated cognitive task which, broadly speaking consists of at least three major components: listening or comprehension, reformulation or deverbalization (Seleskovitch, 1975, as cited in Isham, 1994), and finally production or oral rendering. This means that basically an interpreter listens to the ST to comprehend the message, gets rid of the SL form (words, phrases, structures, etc.) or deverbalizes the message, and orally produces the TT, which is the reformulated message in TL. Touching upon the peculiar temporal characteristics of SI, Chernov (2004, p. 15) shows how SI is considerably different from all other forms of translation and interpretation:
Research into the temporal parameters of SI clearly reveals two of the extreme conditions obtaining in SI: the concurrent nature of SL speech perception and TL speech production and the need to start the translation process before the SL utterance is completed. On these two parameters alone SI differs radically from all other kinds of translation and interpretation, written or oral. (my emphasis)
This is a very broad picture of what an interpreter’s job involves. However, what makes the study of interpreting difficult, or even sometimes elusive, is the complexity (Lambert, 1988; Daró, 1994; Fabbro & Gran, 1994; Klonowicz, 1994; Lambert, 1994; Gile, 1995; Déjean Le Féal, 1997; Al-Khanji et al., 2000; Hamers et al., 2002; Lee, 2002; Mizuno, 2005; Pöchhacker, 2005; Seeber & Zelger, 2007) of these three components, the operation of these mental tasks, and the cognitive efforts (Gile, 1995) required for the operation of these three tasks and the coordination of them.
Unfamiliarity with the cognitive processes of interpreting and lack of theoretical background can make problems both for trainers and trainees. It is oftentimes the case that both parties are to a great extent unaware of the mental processes happening inside the head of the interpreter. The trainees see a professional undertaking the task of interpreting successfully but do not know how to do it themselves. The trainers, on the other hand, may be able to perform well themselves but fail to provide standardized methods for helping trainees overcome the mental barriers they are faced with.
Not surprisingly, there are various ways of classifying different forms of interpreting based on when, where, how, and for whom the interpreting is carried out. There is not even consensus over the precise definition of the terms ‘type’, ‘mode’, ‘form’, ‘modality’ etc. and different scholars view them differently. Such disagreements, however, are not of interest to us as embarking on a lengthy, in-depth, theoretical analysis to delineate these terms and concepts is obviously outside the scope of the present study and is a fitting topic for more conceptual research designs. Being of an applied nature, the present study is interested in no more than touching upon some of the common terms predominantly used and generally-agreed-upon in relevant research publications. Thus, the terms ‘type’, ‘form’, and ‘mode’ are used loosely and interchangeably here.
In a very broad categorization, two basic types of interpreting can be identified: simultaneous interpreting (SI) and consecutive interpreting (CI). Other modes of interpreting include sight translation (ST), simultaneous interpreting with text, liaison interpreting, whispering, and escort interpreting. We will now turn to these different forms and provide a short explanation for each.
2.2.1 Simultaneous Interpreting
“SI was first used on a large scale at the Nuremberg Trials; it then developed beyond the political sphere into the fields of economics, sports, finance, manufacturing industries, transport, etc.” (Seleskovitch, 1999, p. 57) It finally came to replace consecutive which had previously been the prevailing mode in many domains.
In simultaneous interpreting, the interpreter continuously receives and comprehends the new input while simultaneously deverbalizing (Seleskovitch, 1975, as cited in Isham, 1994) it and producing the output in the target language. So the simultaneous interpreter has to handle several tasks at the same time (Lambert, 1988), which requires coordination of different cognitive efforts. The interpreter sits inside a booth, which has to meet certain requirements (e.g. being sound-proof, having a good view of the speaker, etc.), and wears a headset comprising headphones, through which he listens to the speaker, and a microphone, into which he utters his rendering of the ST. At the same time as the interpreter is interpreting the speech into the microphone on his headset, the audience can listen to the interpretation through the headphones they are equipped with.
According to Hendricks (1971, p. 7, cited in Al-Khanji et al., 2000, p. 550), the SI process involves the following four stages:
1. Listening, i.e., perception of sounds.
2. Comprehension, i.e., grasping the sense of the sounds.
3. Translation, i.e., transforming the sense into the corresponding linguistic units or into another language.
4. Phonation, i.e., articulating, producing the new speech utterance.